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…Earmarks N500bn for 2 million SMEs, industrial clusters

By Bimbola Oyesola and Charles Nwaoguji

THE Federal Government yesterday, said it has earmarked N500 billion to boost the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector of the economy as the nation appears headed to self-sustenance.

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said at a press briefing in Lagos, Thursday, that the Federal Government would continue to ensure that low cost financing are available to the nation’s MSMEs.

Enelamah said the N500 billion Social Protection Fund was meant for cooperatives, trade organisations and larger number of others in MSME sector.

According to him, the funds would be disbursed to two million Nigerians, specifically traders, artisans and those engaged in micro, small and medium enterprises.

This, he explained, would further make Nigeria achieve sustainable economic development as well as even creation of wealth among the citizens.

He said, “SMEs are grossly under-served in terms of low cost financing citing the sheer scale of numbers of SMEs that need funds to make appreciable impact as part of reasons for this trend.”

The Minister said the importance of financing SMEs has never been lost on the government, but for lack of access to affordable loans, adding that several deliberate and sustained financial initiatives have been put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except that SMEs still remain grossly under-served.

He listed cooperatives, market women and trade groups, artisans and start-up companies as veritable partners who are being engaged towards the creation of wealth with overall goal of boosting job creation and ultimately, economic growth and development.

“This would be the main focus of our engagement with the SME sector. We believe that working through the co-operatives, market and trade organisations, credit can reach the largest numbers,” he said.

He pointed out that apart He pointed out that apart from government assisting this set of groups to finance their businesses through loans, it is also planning to create more industrial clusters and parks across the country.